I have a bad habit with music. Whenever I acquire a particularly good album or set of songs, I play them again and again continuously until I either can’t listen to them for at least another year, or manage to exert some degree of self control and cruelly cut off my access. The current album I have on near-continuous play is Rilo Kiley’s The Execution of All Things. I first heard them from a song off The Trip by Snow Patrol, a compilation album of Snow Patrol’s favorite songs; Rilo Kiley’s With Arms Outstretched was one of those songs.
I tend to listen to new artists and albums with half an ear during work, and if anything catches my attention I’ll mark it up for further listening. I was listening to The Trip by Snow Patrol one day when the Rilo Kiley song came on and I thought, ‘Huh, that’s actually really good.’ With Arms Outstretched is a simple, beautiful alternative acoustic song with female vocals on just the right side of weird (just like the lyrics, in fact). A quick Amazon search revealed that Rilo Kiley, while not being particularly well known, were very well rated and so I quickly ordered The Execution of All Things, which most people believe is their best album so far.
I haven’t heard the others yet, but it is pretty impressive. The band has a great range that isn’t easily described. The review on Amazon.com asks, ‘Are they alternative-country rockers or alternative rock crooners?’ I don’t know what either of those are, but The Execution of All Things has at least four excellent songs, which is pretty unprecedented in my experience. In comparison, I think that U2’s latest album (How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb) only has three really decent songs, and two of them sound the same anyway.
Anyway, back to Rilo Kiley. All of the vocals are by Jenny Lewis, who has a voice which is slightly reminiscent of an americanised Emiliana Torrini. Those four songs start with, appropriately enough, the title song The Execution of All Things, a weird alternative pop song with great chords and slightly bizarre lyrics. Next is My Slumbering Heart, a more traditional up-tempo pop song. The third song is With Arms Outstretched, which I’ve already mentioned, and the last is Spectacular Views, a perfect alternative rock album finisher where the guitarist gets to show off.
Rilo Kiley recently released a new album called More Adventurous. It’s yet to come out in the UK but reviews have proved divisive. Most agree that it’s a good album and that it’s more ‘produced’ than The Execution of All Things. For some, this is a good thing while others aren’t so hot on the new sound. I’m eager to find out for myself.